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House Candidates Have Unusual Foes Chenoweth, Williams Face Lambert, Levinger In Primary

Both mainstream candidates for U.S. representative in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District face primary challenges from political outsiders.

Freshman Rep. Helen Chenoweth, 58, will face Nampa physician Bill Levinger, 41, in the Republican primary.

Boise attorney Dan Williams, 35, will face Matt Alan Lambert, a 34-year-old out-of-work window washer from North Idaho in the Democratic race.

Chenoweth and Williams have party support and the ability to raise much-needed campaign funds; Williams already has collected nearly $200,000, much of it in political action committee money.

Levinger said he was forging ahead with his campaign “in the belief that one person can make a difference” - despite a shaky start in April.

During a Boise television interview last month, Levinger was arrested after he refused to leave the station and then took off his clothes. Levinger spent several weeks in a hospital psychiatric ward.

This week, on a North Idaho tour, Levinger said he had suffered a manic depressive episode after discovering that television news is interested only in “the drama of the moment.”

“By refusing to leave the set, I thought I could draw attention to that,” he said. He took off his clothes “to let the police know I was totally unarmed.”

Levinger also wants to bring attention to the national debt and campaign finance reform. Mostly, he said, he wanted to give Chenoweth a challenger - “to show democracy in action.”

“My campaign at least has gotten Helen back to Idaho a few more times,” he said.

Does he think he can win? Well … sure, why not, he said.

“I’m like Rocky Balboa, you know,” Levinger said. “He was a contender.”

Lambert, a former gold-panner from Murray - with a population of less than 100 people, most of them Republicans - wants to be a “Democrat for change.”

He spent half a month’s wages - $300 - to file for office and wants to set a record as the only candidate elected without political action committee money.

Lambert has run for office before, earning almost 700 votes out of 3,000 in a race for state representative from Shoshone County. In one campaign appearance he painted his face like a rodeo clown.

That prompted Silver Valley Democratic Party Chairwoman Anna Wilson to say she’s met him in person but never seen his face.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 4 Photos